With Google searches for “solo female travel” seeing a 495% uplift in the last month alone, yet over 50% of women reported to feeling concerned about their safety when travelling solo, the travel experts Wizz Air offer advice to help women enjoy exploring destinations and keep themselves reassured throughout their trip.
With over 50% of women revealing they would be concerned about their safety when travelling solo, there are ways to keep safe while travelling abroad. From ensuring you do the correct research of your destination and, especially, the area you intend on staying, to making sure your valuables and cash are kept safe, the below tips can help solo travelers feel peace of mind while abroad.
Do your pre-trip research.
Ensure you do your research before heading out on your first solo trip. Read there views of hotels or BnBs you are considering, to ensure the location is safe and near amenities such as public transport. If you are travelling on a budget, it can be easy to ignore reviews in favor of saving money, however you must ensure there are plenty of reviews available, as this will give you a better understanding of where you will be staying.
If you are a social person, then staying in a shared room in a hostel is a great way to make new friends while still maintaining your solo traveler independence. Many hostels offer female only dorms, offered for the solo traveler and girl group in mind, so it is advisable to seek out places that offer this.
Keep valuables locked up.
Nothing dampens a holiday more than having your valuables stolen, so be vigilant and keep your goods safe. If you are staying in a hotel room, keep your valuables locked in the safe, usually provided, to give you peace of mind. If you are staying in a shared room in a hostel then most will provide lockers, so ensure you travel with a lock and keep the key on you at all times. Hotels are also not generally responsible for items in your room, so if you do have anything particularly valuable then it is advisable to leave them with the front desk. A reputable hotel will give you a written receipt that you have left your goods with them, meaning if they do get lost then they will be liable for this.
Let loved ones know your plans.
Give your friends, family and yourself some peace of mind and let them know a rough itinerary of your holiday before you go, so if they don’t hear from you then they will know where they should contact. If you intend on going with the flow and don’t have a specific plan in place, then at least let loved ones know a rough idea and where you will be staying.
We are all guilty of not sending the necessary “I’m home” text, so avoid causing unnecessary stress and allow a trust family member to track your location. There are numerous apps which allow loved ones to know your activity, offering them peace of mind that you are safe. If, in an emergency, they can’t locate you then they will be able to alert the necessary authorities.
Hide in plain sight.
To avoid drawing attention to the fact you are a solo traveler, avoid dressing like a tell-tale tourist and, instead, dress as simply as you can. In fact, you should take note of how locals are dressed to help you curate your outfits. If you notice locals covering certain parts of their body, for example, then you should do the same. Not only will this help you blend in, but it also means you don’t risk seeming disrespectful.
In order to blend in, you must also avoid having anything too valuable out and about. A pickpocket will spot your fancy camera or your new smartphone and instantly see you as a target. While travelling with a phone or a camera can be unavoidable, there are ways you can conceal these high value items. Avoid storing your camera in a dedicated camera bag and instead keep it in a simple and inconspicuous bag.
Give yourself a backup.
Travelling solo means you have to be hyper aware of your surroundings but allow yourself a backup. In the event you become accosted by a robber while out and about, carry a dummy wallet on you to hand over and keep cash hidden on your person. Flat money belts which are strapped underneath your clothes can store cash, cards and any valuables, or for a budget method you can get creative. Use a tampon applicator as a makeshift wallet to keep cash hidden – it is exceptionally unlikely a robber will be looking to steal a tampon.
Buy a local SIM.
As of 31 st December 2020, the EU rules on roaming charges no longer apply in the UK, meaning the amount your phone operator can charge you to use your phone in EU countries is no longer capped, resulting in potentially exceptionally high bills. As each mobile operator has a different cost for roaming charges, you must check before travelling to see how much using your phone on holiday could cost.
Being too concerned about using your phone, in case of high bill prices, means youare putting yourself in danger as you are unable to contact anyone if you feel unsafe.
When you first arrive, consider investing in a local PAYG SIM card to use whileabroad and make a note of loved one’s numbers and the emergency numbers ofyour destination. If you intend on doing a lot of travelling this year, then you shouldconsider upgrading your current phone tariff to allow data roaming, as this will saveyou more money down the line.
Let your bank know.
If your bank notices a seemingly random payment from a local bar in Spain then they may flag this as suspicious activity and freeze your card. In an increasingly cashless society, having your card and account frozen is possibly the worst thing that can happen while on the first day of your holiday, and can leave you in a vulnerable position. With this in mind, make sure you bring enough cash to keep you going in case your card gets frozen, lost or stolen, and keep the cash hidden to avoid losing this too.
Let your bank know prior to going abroad to avoid any misunderstandings andhaving to call up your bank while on holiday. This can be done by calling them up ormany banks allow you to set a holiday on your account online.
Make the most of your holiday.
Solo travelling is one of the most gratifying things you can do, with 38% of women expected to take a solo trip in 2022. While you must ensure you take the necessary steps to stay safe while abroad, you should also take steps to ensure you make the most of your holiday.
Book a tour.
Booking a tour, whether it is a walking tour of the city or an excursion to a nearby hot spot, is one of the easiest and safest ways to explore a new destination.Reputable operators will provide you with specific itineraries, meaning you can keep loved ones back home in the loop, and will usually be hosted by locals, offering you a true insight. Booking tours or excursions as a solo traveler also allows you the opportunity to meet new people, potentially even other solo travelers. Shop around for the best deal available, to avoid paying more than necessary. If you are on a budget, many places, especially popular cities, have free walking tours dotted along the city center, giving tourists a local’s insight of the area. While they are free, it is sometimes expected to tip your guide so ensure you have a bit of cash on you before you set off.
Choose your destination with intent.
The beauty of solo travelling if it is the perfect opportunity to be totally selfish! We have all had to compromise while on a group holiday and do something we perhaps wouldn’t have chosen to do ourselves but didn’t want to seem like a party pooper. Think about what you look for in a holiday; do you enjoy long hikes or exploring a bustling city, or perhaps you just want to lay on a beach and finally read that book.
This article was written by Riya Sander and originally appeared on Your Coffee Break.